National Current Affairs – UPSC/IAS Exams- 28th February 2020
Topic: Polity and Governance
In News: According to estimates by from IIT Kharagpur, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics and the University of Hyderabad in a recent publication, Eastern Ghats have shrunk by 16% over the past century, and just one region, Papikonda National Park, lost about 650 sq. km. in two decades from 1991.
More on the Topic:
Significance of Eastern Ghats:
- The Eastern Ghats spread across some 75,000 sq. km. from Odisha to southern Tamil Nadu, play an important dual role: fostering biodiversity and storing energy in trees.
- In these mountains exist a reservoir of about 3,000 flowering plant species, nearly 100 of them endemic, occurring in the dry deciduous, moist deciduous and semi-evergreen landscapes.
- Many animals, including tigers and elephants, and some 400 bird species are found in these discontinuous forests that receive an annual average rainfall of 1,200 mm to 1,500 mm.
- Crucially, many parts, primarily in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, provide forest produce and ecosystem services to millions.
Threats Faced By Eastern Ghats:
- New research findings argue that the Ghats face a serious threat from climate change, and temperature variations are a cause for worry.
- The disruption of the annual average temperature and diminished rainfall would diminish the productivity of these forests, in terms of their ability to store carbon, and provide subsistence material.
- Existing data point to the impoverishment of areas experiencing rainfall reduction in the driest quarter of the year and a rise in seasonal temperature, through reduced plant species diversity and a dominant role for herbs over trees.
Significance of protecting Eastern Ghats:
- Protecting the Eastern Ghats, which are separated by powerful rivers the Godavari and Krishna, to name just two is an ecological imperative.
- India is committed, under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes through enhanced forest and tree cover.
- Relieving the pressure on forests can be done through policies that reduce extraction of scarce resources and incentivise settled agriculture.
- Schemes for restoration of forest peripheries through indigenous plant and tree species, matching national commitments, could qualify for international climate finance, and must be pursued.
- The study on changes to temperature and rainfall calls for decisive steps to mitigate carbon emissions.
- Improving tree cover nationally is certain to confer multiple benefits, including modulation of the monsoon, improved air quality and wider spaces for biodiversity to persist.
· Eastern Ghats run almost parallel to the east coast of India leaving broad plains between their base and the coast.
· It is a chain of highly broken and detached hills starting from the Mahanadi in Odisha to the Vagai in Tamil Nadu. They almost disappear between the Godavari and the Krishna.
· They neither have structural unity nor physiographic continuity. Therefore these hill groups are generally treated as independent units.
Topic: International Relations
In News: India and Myanmar has signed 10 agreements with a focus on socioeconomic development of Myanmar.
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- India and Myanmar will start coordinated bus service between Imphal and Mandalay.
- India’s assistance in the construction of Integrated Check Point at Tamu, Myanmar, bordering Manipur, will also be done. For ease of people-to-people movement across the border at Moreh Tamu, the two countries signed the Land Border Crossing Agreement in 2018, which allowed bona fide travellers with valid document to cross the border at two international points of entry/exit: Moreh-Tamu and Zokhawathar- Rih.
- India will offer medical radiation equipment Bhabhatron II for treatment of cancer patients, and strengthen cooperation in the health sector. The two sides also agreed to have government-to-government cooperation in petroleum.
- They also decided to extend the Quick Impact Project schemes to Myanmar. Under this, India takes up capacity development work in the form of small projects which yield quick beneficial results for the local people.
- India will help Myanmar with the project of e-ID cards, which is modelled after the Aadhaar project.
- The two sides decided to provide more projects to Rakhine State Development Programme. India had committed $25 million grant assistance to Myanmar over a period of five years and phase-I involved completion of 250 prefabricated house in Rakhine State.( The Rakhine state has witnessed a lot of violence in the past and scores of Rohingyas had fled the state facing persecution)
- The agreements included an MoU on ‘Cooperation for Prevention of Trafficking in Persons; Rescue, Recovery, Repatriation and Re-Integration of Victims of Trafficking’. An agreement regarding Indian Grant Assistance for Implementation of Quick Impact Projects (QIP) was also signed between the two sides.
Topic: Science and Technology
In News: Astronomers have observed a small object orbiting Earth, which they have dubbed a “mini-moon” or the planet’s “second moon”.
More on the topic:
- It is actually an asteroid, about the size of a car; its diameter is about 1.9-3.5 m. And unlike our permanent Moon, the mini-moon is temporary; it will eventually break free of Earth’s orbit and go off on its own way.
- Dubbed 2020 CD3, the mini-moon was discovered by NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) in Arizona.
- According to the researchers, 2020 CD3 was captured into Earth’s orbit over three years ago. For CSS, it is only the second such discovery. It previously discovered 2006 RH120, which orbited Earth for some time that year, before it escaped in 2007.
- When an asteroid’s orbit crosses Earth’s orbit, it can sometimes be captured into the latter orbit. This is what happened with 2020 CD3. It is now orbiting at a distance farther from Earth.
- Such an asteroid is called a Temporarily Captured Object (TCO). The orbit of such objects is unstable. They have to contend with the gravitational influence of our permanent Moon as well as that of the Sun.
- Once caught in Earth’s orbit, such objects usually remain for a few years before they break free and go into independent orbit around the Sun.
Source: Indian Express
Topic: Government Policies
In News: The Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Higher Education Leadership Development Programme for Administrator.
More on the Topic:
- It is a joint initiative of UGC and British Council under the auspices of UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI), which aims to deliver a leadership development programme for middle and senior level administrative functionaries in Indian Universities.
- The main objective of the programme is to train the senior and middle level academic administrators to enable them to bring about systemic changes with renewed approaches, capacity, tools and skill in Universities in India.
- This “Higher Education Leadership Development Programme for Administrators” ensures effectiveness on the part of the administrative functionaries of the Universities.
- This programme includes two workshops to bring about professional transformation in the higher education institutions.
- Further to make the programme sustainable 30 potential future leadership development programme trainers from among the 300 participants will be chosen and will be given additional training to train others.
- The University Grants Commission (UGC) will conduct this programme in collaboration with Advance HE as the training partner with globally recognized institutional expertise and leadership excellence from the UK, which is being enabled by the British Council in India.
Topic: Defence and Security
In News: The Indian Air Force (IAF) and Royal Air Force (RAF)(UK) jointly commenced the fifth edition of Ex Indradhanush at Air Force Station Hindan.
More on the Topic:
- The focus of this edition of the exercise is ‘Base Defence and Force Protection’.
- This theme is of significance considering the recent threats to military establishments from terror elements.
- Ex Indradhanush provides a platform for the IAF and RAF to share and jointly validate strategies and tactics to counter terror threats to their installations.
Topic: Science and Technology
In News: National Science Day (NSD) is celebrated on 28th February. “WOMEN IN SCIENCE” –is the focal theme of the National Science Day (NSD) 2020.
More on the Topic:
- NSD is celebrated every year on 28 February to commemorate the discovery of the ‘Raman Effect’. Government of India designated 28 February as National Science Day (NSD) in 1986.
- On this day, Sir C.V. Raman announced the discovery of the ‘Raman Effect’ for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1930. On this occasion, theme-based science communication activities are carried out all over the country.
- The Raman Effect is a change in the wavelength of light that occurs when a light beam is deflected by molecules. When a beam of light traverses a dust-free, transparent sample of a chemical compound, a small fraction of the light emerges in directions other than that of the incident (incoming) beam.
- Most of this scattered light is of unchanged wavelength. A small part, however, has wavelengths different from that of the incident light; its presence is a result of the Raman effect.
- The violet light of the solar spectrum is isolated with a violet filter and passed through the liquid sample. Most of the light emerging from the liquid sample is the same color as the incident violet beam: the so-called Rayleigh scattered light (the scattering of light by particles in a medium, without change in wavelength. It accounts, for example, for the blue colour of the sky, since blue light is scattered slightly more efficiently than red).
|Women in Science:
·Women represent only about a fifth of senior authors in all published research.
· A study, published in the journal PLOS One in 2018, assessed 293,557 research articles from 54 journals and found that only 29.8% of all research authors were women.
· Another study by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) noted that women inventors account for just under 13% of patent applications globally.
· In India, out of the 560 awardees of Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology, only 18 recipients have been women. The prize is one of the highest multidisciplinary science awards in India.